How to Help an Orphaned, Injured or Poorly Bird

Great tit nestlings

Introduction

It is not always easy to tell when wild animals need our help, and when it is best to leave them alone. This blog post and the included flowcharts are thought to be a rough guide for situations where no expert advice and help is at hand immediately. If you have found an orphaned, injured or poorly bird, then please read the guidance provided here in this blog post together with the FLOWCHARTS No1 and No2 and follow the instructions given there.

It is important to note that specific features of hatchlings, nestlings, fledglings and juvenile birds can vary significantly among different species. Each bird species has its own unique characteristics and growth patterns. So, if you are trying to identify a specific bird, it is helpful to consult field guides, online resources or seek expert advice to accurately identify the species based on its distinctive features.

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Identification of Juvenile Rooks and Carrion Crows

Carrion crow Amor
Rook Brambles
Rook Brambles

It is usually not difficult to differentiate between adult rooks (Corvus frugilegus) and carrion crows (Corvus corone). Both species may look similar at the first glance, because both have black feathers that can also look glossy. However, the long pale and pointy beak, with bare skin around its base, is the most striking and characteristic feature of rooks. It is also worth knowing that rooks nest collectively in tall trees, often close to farms or villages, which are known as rookeries. In contrast, carrion crows are fairly solitary and are usually found alone or in pairs, although they may form occasional non-breeding flocks. Unlike rooks, carrion crows do nest solitary, maintaining a large breeding territory centred around the nest.

Carrion crow Chili
Carrion Crow Chili

Additional help and information about how to identify adult corvids including rooks and carrion crows can be found on the British Trust for Ornithology website (BTO).

British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) – Identifying Corvids – Crow, Chough, Jackdaw, Rook and Raven

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Eyes – Windows to the Soul

Carrion crow Harold

It has been said that the eyes are windows to the soul. Research has shown that the apertures of our eyes offer a glimpse into the mind. No doubt that this applies to human and non-human animals. The pupil response to cognitive and emotional events occurs on an even smaller scale than the light reflex, but with the right tools this response is measurable.

When we give a human or non-human being moral consideration, then this simply means that we take into account how they will be affected by our actions, omissions, attitudes and decisions. Sentient individuals, regardless of their species, have morally relevant interests in being alive and in not being harmed, and this does not vary according to the fact whether a species is rare or common.

When I look into the eyes of an animal, I do not see an animal.
I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.

Anthony Douglas Williams
Carrion crow Harold
Carrion Crow Harold

First Aid for Birds

Goldcrests 'The Seven Dwarfs'

Spring is approaching, and this means that this year’s nesting season is about to start too. At this time of the year birds start building their nests, flitting to and from their nesting sites in search of nesting materials. Nesting behaviour and success are affected by weather and climate. And so it is no surprise that climate change is also having an impact on our native birds, leading to an even earlier start of the breeding season, which is causing the ecosystem to become unbalanced. Due to these changes, hatchlings and nestlings are potentially at risk of starvation, if their food sources, like for example insects or sand eel, are not emerging at the right time or near the place of nesting.

Swift nestling Indra
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Naughty Hooded Crow

Mute swan

This short videoclip shows a fascinating encounter between a rather naughty and very persistent hooded crow and a juvenile mute swan. Neither the victim nor a nearby adult bird, presumably a parent of the young swan, seem to be too much annoyed by the antics of the crow, who repeatedly pulls the tail or tries to get hold of some wing feathers.